Chinese robot cars set the record for longest driverless distance


With an average of just 0.71 human driver interventions per 100 km, a Chinese start-up has used a fleet of cars to autonomously cover a 3,670-kilometer route from Guangzhou to Beijing in one week. — XPeng/dpa

Tesla competitor XPeng has completed a record-breaking road trip along China's east coast with its autonomous cars in a bid to show how robot systems perform in the real world.

The Chinese start-up used a fleet of its electric P7 models to cover the 3,670-kilometer route from Guangzhou to Beijing in one week. The cars visited 10 cities in six provinces.

The route includes a range of complex and busy highways and for 2,900 km the company's NGP (navigation guided pilot) was in charge. The driver on board each car seldom had to intervene, achieving an average of 0.71 human driver interventions per 100 km.

This sets a new benchmark for long-distance autonomous driving by mass production passenger vehicles. The NGP system uses 14 cameras, five radars, 12 sensors and sophisticated, high-definition mapping.

Experts say everyday autonomous driving is still a way off but the tests shows how well robot cars can cope with difficult conditions such as driving through rainstorms and in mountain areas.

Xpeng said the average success rate of the cars for lane changing and overtaking was 94.4%, with similar figures for highway ramp entering and passing through tunnels.

"The expedition has fully challenged the robustness and reliability of the NGP function,” said Xpeng chairman He Xiaopeng at a press briefing.

In regular electric mode the P7 electric can cover up to 700 kilometres on a single charge.

Chinese internet giant Alibaba has been investing heavily in XPeng and it also has a substantial stake in Zhiji Motor, the electric offshoot of state-run SAIC Motor. – dpa

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